It has been so busy round here that only yesterday I stopped and realised that I hadn't written a blog post since December. No excuse apart from being so busy - but everyone is, right? So I figured I better get my act together and start writing again very soon, and it felt appropriate since I'm in the best place I've been in a long time.
Truth is, I've not just been busy, I've actually been re-structuring life too. Sounds deep, I know. It was much needed though. Last year was personally a very challenging one, whilst business was taking many steps forward, I had to learn to deal with the changes it brought.
Anyone in the creative field will usually find that their mind runs wild with so many new ideas and find it hard to tame it. Whenever a new idea sparks, my initial feeling is to drop everything else and spend all the time I got on bringing these ideas (some great, some crazy!) to life.
I also find it hard to say no. Which is why I ended up in the position I was last year, taking on too much and without the time to deliver I ended up overwhelmed by the fact that I was letting myself down, and by that I mean taking up precious family time and me time so I could get everything else done. An overwhelming feeling to say the least.
And that's before I even mention two kids under four, a big house that needs a lot of maintenance, a dog. My husband took on a lot whilst I was going through the busiest times, and I am forever grateful for his support.
But no one can or should carry on like that forever, so I have taken some steps to organise life, if I did it, anyone else can. Here are the steps:
Work smarter, not harder
Easier said than done. Like everything else in business. There are ways you can be in control though, and not let the business run you, or be constantly working in the business and not ON it.
I have tried a few things, and the one that works for me is keeping lists of all the things that need doing on a weekly basis, and colour coding them by the most urgent or important on that week, and everything else. Separating things like tasks in the business and working on the business is very helpful, and same for the personal tasks you need to achieve.
That way, when you are planning the week ahead, you will know how much time you need to dedicate for work in the biz, ON the biz and also for personal and family tasks. You then allocate those tasks to the days of the week, and you'll feel a lot more organised knowing that the urgent and important things are not being forgotten!
Set a time for everything
Different to planning what tasks need to be done, this is actually going one step further. As a working from home mum, it is so easy to get carried away and work 24/7 around the kids schedule and then find yourself over worked, over tired and lacking energy. Also, you'll fall into the trap I did and feel like you are not doing anything properly. So the trick is, set times for everything!
- Plan your weekly schedule so you have set days to work. I have recently moved nursery days around so I can allow myself at least 3 working days.
- Restrict work tasks around family. On the days I have my youngest with me, I use her nap time to catch up with housework and any urgent work emails, and in the evenings I set 1-2 hours to catch up with orders.
- Schedule your 'me' time - this is as important as getting work done. Plan to exercise a few times a week, take the dog for a walk, get your nails done, catch up with friends over coffee. I am enjoying dog walks and exercising much more since I am not feeling guilty for taking the time to do it!
Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
Unless you have employees working for you and enough help with the housework, you will never get everything done as quick as you wish (anyone else constantly thinking that the wash load has been in the machine for a day!) Some things have to take priority over others and that is ok. Looking at that list on the first point above, ask yourself:
- What can't wait?
- What could wait a few days? (Not the wash load!)
- What can you outsource or ask your husband/friend/brother/mother/daughter to do to help out? Think of the things that don't need your expertise here and can be done by someone else. Out of 15 things on my to do list, probably 5 need to be completed by me and all others could be delegated.
Don't over promise and under deliver
You will make a lasting impression when you under promise and over deliver! If you know you can get a project done by Thursday - set your deadline to Friday. When you deliver it a day early you will not only feel great but will also make a positive and lasting impression.
On a personal level, don't tell your friends you'll be attending every social event to then cancel last minute and not show up. Be honest when you're busy or tired and can't make it. True friends will still be there when things calm down. Forget FOMO - this is about JOMO (the joy of missing out!)
Drop the guilt!
Guilt should be banned. Full stop.
There is enough of that already when you are a mum and wife and trying to perform so many roles to a full extent, let alone for a mum and wife running a business full-time. THERE IS NO TIME TO FEEL GUILTY. Instead, FEEL GRATEFUL. Practice gratitude and you will be filled with positivity. And use all the tips above to manage your time so that you spend a few minutes a day using a gratitude journal or meditating.
These tips will not make the fact that you run a business any easier, let's face it: anyone who does or has done it knows it is a rocky road, but one that comes with so many rewards that you won't look back.
What these tips will do though, is help you manage your mindset and be in control. After all, you've started a business to have a flexible schedule around the family, and that is exactly how it should be!